Repeat timing chain failure

The consumer’s issue:

I purchased a brand-new hatchback in January 2011. In August 2013, after driving for 43,470 miles, the timing chain failed, so it was replaced under warranty by a dealership.

In July 2019, 30,000 miles after the repair, the timing chain broke again, so I took it to a different garage, and they told me the chain had failed because the guide was overtightened.

I have contacted the dealership that carried out the first repair several times, because I think the timing chain should last at least 60,000 miles and I’ve been told that it’s their workmanship that caused the problem. They have repeatedly refused to acknowledge the complaint, both in person and in writing.

I am therefore seeking a refund from the dealership for the cost of having to repair the timing chain again due to their failure to rectify the issue correctly during the initial visit.”

The accredited business’ response:

  • We replaced the timing chain on the consumer’s vehicle in August 2013, which was carried out by a fully trained technician with many years of experience.
  • The consumer’s timing chain failed in July 2019, but at that time, the consumer did not present the vehicle in a failed state to us, so we could not confirm whether a manufacturer’s defect existed at the time of the timing chain issue, or if there was a problem with our repair.
  • We believe that, if we had overtightened the timing chain guide during the replacement in August 2013, the component would have failed much sooner than July 2019.
  • The manufacturer confirmed that they could not offer any goodwill or a refund to the consumer on this occasion.
  • Having examined the history of the consumer’s vehicle, we noted that it had not been serviced in accordance with the manufacturer’s specifications (12 months or 20,000 miles, whichever comes first), which may have led to the failure.
  • As such, we are not able to offer the consumer a refund for the timing chain repairs.

The adjudication outcome:

  • The Motor Ombudsman adjudicator considered the Service and Repair Code of Practice and relevant law, which states that the dealership has an obligation to use reasonable skill and care when conducting repairs on vehicles.
  • The evidential burden fell to the consumer to demonstrate that the timing chain fault was directly related to the workmanship of the business.
  • The customer had mentioned that they had technical information showing that the timing chain failed due to an overtightening of the guide, but had not provided this to The Motor Ombudsman.
  • As a result, the adjudicator had no grounds to support the conclusion that the timing chain broke due to the dealership’s workmanship, and considering it had lasted around six years, it was more likely than not that it failed for some other reason.
  • Because of this, the adjudicator found no breach of the Service and Repair Code and, as such, there was no obligation established on the dealership to provide a refund.
  • Therefore, the adjudicator did not uphold this case in the consumer’s favour.


  • Neither party responded to the adjudication outcome, and the case was closed.